Posted by: The ocean update | May 5, 2015

Dolphin deaths defended (Australia)

The Geelong Star has killed eight dolphins and four seals in its net on its two fishing trips. Source : Supplied

The Geelong Star has killed eight dolphins and four seals in its net on its two fishing trips. Source : Supplied

May 5th, 2015. The Federal Government is standing by the ­operator of the factory trawler Geelong Star, despite growing community anger at the deaths of another four dolphins and two seals late last week.

“The only way that you’re going to stop interactions with marine mammals is to stop fishing all together and seafood is one of the most important protein sources on the planet,” Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries Richard Colbeck said. “It makes up a quarter of all the protein consumed and to replace that with grass fed protein for example, would mean clearing our rainforests 22 times over.”

The Geelong Star returned to port after four dolphins were killed in a single net deployment on Friday. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority said two fur seals had been killed as well.

This followed the deaths of four dolphins and two seals during the Geelong Star’s first Australian fishing trip.

Those deaths, announced on April 21, caused the trawler to return to port for two days, and it was restricted to daylight only fishing.

Tasmanian Association for Recreational Fishing chief Mark Nikolai said the latest deaths had not been a surprise.

Mr Nikolai said trawling for small pelagic fish such as jack mackerel and redbait was problematic compared with other commercial fisheries, ­because the smaller fish were prey for marine mammals, such as dolphins, as well as big predator fish, such as tuna.

He said this had been a key factor behind the Labor ­government’s decision to ban the super trawler Margiris in 2012 and recreational fishers have called on federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to do the same.

The latest mammal deaths have triggered a provision in fisheries authority’s vessel management plan, which required the Geelong Star’s operators to cease fishing immediately and to subject the vessel to an inspection by authority officers and a review of bycatch factors.

“The vessel will not recommence fishing until they are satisfied that all reasonable measures are in place to minimise any further marine mammal mortalities,’’ Senator Colbeck said.

“This is a very important ­element of managing our fisheries. We take great pride here in Australia about the way we manage our fisheries and the way that we manage all these interactions and we have to continuously improve.”

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